Mission Possible: Background How it came to be; where it's going.
This Pack is the fruit of successive RLF Fellowships I held at Oxford Brookes University, culminating in an R&D project in 2004-5. In this, I was able to extend, test and finalise a variety of Study Skills resources which had grown out of years of student queries.
These ideas are hewn from the coal-face. For instance, during the inaugural Fellowship in 2000-1, I was deep in a 1-to-1 session on essay structure with an overseas student. We were both struggling to make ourselves understood. Finally, I drew a sketch to represent the essay structure. The student paused; then, in answer, drew his own. A productive image-based conversation ensued! Using a similar approach with other students (at all levels of eloquence) it soon became clear that these images not only saved time and avoided misunderstanding, but also began to fall into families of recognisable type. A wall-chart - the '13 Ways' - was born. Other ideas arrived, centred (through necessity) on students' stated needs and informed by my growing realisation that many writing difficulties at college either stem from a lack of basic skills or strategy, or else can be traced back to long-term habits and assumptions.
This web-based Pack collects together all of my key materials in this vein. Some items - such as The 13 Ways, The Four Ls and Black-Red-Green - are entirely new. Already successful with staff and students at Brookes, these are launched into the wider domain for the first time here.
The Pack has also been incorporated into Passages, a pilot undergraduate module I developed at the Department of English Studies in conjunction with Rob Pope and Simon Kovesi. Passages is a crucial, pragmatic initiative. It provides templates for good study practices as well as evidence that teaching Study Skills can generate profound improvements in student capability. I am delighted that its currency at Brookes is linked to my Fellowships there, and that I was able to raise awareness of the importance, and full variety, of Study Skills issues in a university context.